Jerrald L. Rector, PhD

Research Interests

Psychosocial and behavioral determinants of healthy aging, biological mediators of health, biopsychosocial impact of physical activity


  • 2014 - Ph.D., Psychoneuroimmunology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom

  • 2011 - M.S., Exercise Immunology, University of Houston, Houston, Texas

  • 2009 - B.S., Kinesiology – Exercise Science, University of Houston, Houston, Texas


In 2009, I finished my undergraduate degree in Kinesiology in the Health and Human Performance department at the University of Houston. I continued on in this department, obtaining my M.S. degree in Exercise Immunology in 2011. My graduate research examined the migration patterns and cell death-susceptibility of immune cells mobilized into the peripheral blood in response to an acute bout of exercise. A large focus of this work was the impact of infection with the latent herpes virus, cytomegalovirus (CMV). I later became interested in the similarities between the immunological response to acute bouts of exercise and that of acute psychological stress. Thus, at the end of 2010, I continued my graduate career and pursued my Ph.D. in Psychoneuroimmunology at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. My doctoral research investigated the psychosocial and behavioral determinants of the biological aging of the immune system, again focusing on the impact of CMV infection on these relationships. This project included large-scale immunological data collection from an occupational cohort in collaboration with the Mannheim Institute of Public Health in Germany. Also during my Ph.D., I spent a year working in the Clinical Psychology department at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands to work closely with my supervisor. I successfully defended my dissertation in 2014 and moved back to the U.S.

In August 2015, I began working with Dr. Elliot Friedman as a postdoctoral researcher on a NIH-funded study interrogating the longitudinal Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) dataset. This project will use a biopsychosocial approach to investigate the impact of sociodemographic characteristics, psychosocial resources and inflammatory mediators on functional limitations, cognitive impairment and mortality among those living with multiple chronic conditions (multimorbidity) in middle and later life. I am interested in incorporating physical activity into this framework as a health-relevant influence on these determinants and outcomes. It is my aim to better understand the complex interplay between demographics, psychosocial factors, multimorbidity, physical activity and biological mediators. Particularly, how these factors collectively impact long-term health as we age.


  • Rector, J. L., Thomas, G. N., Burns, V. E., Dowd, J. B., Herr, R. M., Moss, P. A., Jarczok, M. N., Hoffman, K., Fischer, J. E., & Bosch, J. A. (2015). Elevated HbA1c levels and the accumulation of differentiated T cells in CMV+ individuals. Diabetologia. doi:10.1007/s00125-015-3731-4

  • Rector, J. L., Dowd, J. B., Loerbroks, A., Burns, V. E., Moss, P. A., Jarczok, M. N., Stalder, T., Hoffman, K., Fischer, J. E., & Bosch, J. A. (2014). Consistent associations between measures of psychological stress and CMV antibody levels in a large occupational sample. Brain Behav Immun., 38, 133-141. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2014.01.012

  • Lavoy, E. C., Bigley, A. B., Spielmann, G., Rector, J. L., Morrison, M. R., O'Connor, D. P., & Simpson, R. J. (2014). CMV amplifies T-cell redeployment to acute exercise independently of HSV-1 serostatus. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 46(2), 257-267. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182a5a0fb

  • Bosch, J. A., Rector, J. L., Turner, J. E., Riddell, N. E., ó Hartaigh, B., & Burns, V. E. (2012). Psychoneuromicrobiology: Cytomegalovirus infection as a putative link between stress, aging, and immunity. In J. A. Bosch, A. C. Phillips & J. M. Lord (Eds.), Immunosenescence: Psychosocial and behavioral determinants (pp. 81-100). New York: Springer.

  • Solana, R., Tarazona, R., Aiello, A. E., Akbar, A. N., . . . Rector, J. L., Riddell, N. E., Sanchez-Correa B., Sansoni, P., Sauce, D., van Lier, R., Wang, G. C., Wills, M. R., Zielinski, M., & Pawelec, G. (2012). CMV and immunosenescence: From basics to clinics. Immun Ageing, 9(1), 23. doi:10.1186/1742-4933-9-23

  • Bigley, A. B., Lowder, T. W., Spielmann, G., Rector, J. L., Pircher, H., Woods, J. A., & Simpson, R. J. (2012). NK-cells have an impaired response to acute exercise and a lower expression of the inhibitory receptors KLRG1 and CD158a in humans with latent cytomegalovirus infection. Brain Behav Immun, 26(1), 177-186. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2011.09.004

Jerrald Rector

Postdoctoral Researcher

(PhD, University of Birmingham, UK)

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